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After a bout of bad weather, ice-related admissions to hospitals can triple.

Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone, at any time of the year, but winter ice and snow on sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks increase the risk of slips and falls substantially.

Injuries can range from minor scrapes and fractures to back injuries and head trauma.

Sobering stats

In one year, there were 7,894 injuries from slips, trips and falls in B.C. Slips on stairs and steps alone accounted for 1,594 of these injuries. Across Canada, 9,000 people have been hospitalized in a single winter from falling on ice.

Winter-related slip and fall injuries can range from mild to severe.

  • muscle sprains
  • ligament strains
  • Fractures
  • broken bones (usually the wrists and hips)
  • herniated discs
  • spinal compression fractures
  • brain injuries caused by falling on ice and hitting your head

The elderly are especially vulnerable in the winter months, particularly if their neighbourhood pathways are not properly cleared of ice and snow.

For someone in a wheelchair, mobility obstacles are even greater and fear of outdoor falls in icy conditions lead many to be involuntarily homebound.

Snow and ice removal rules

While falls can be caused by inattention and/or lack of caution, property owners and occupiers do have responsibilities to keep their premises safe, and owe a duty of care to people on their premises. There are also snow and ice removal bylaws in every B..C community which must be followed.

In the City of Vancouver, the owners or occupiers of any property are required to remove snow and ice from any sidewalk adjacent to the property, for the full width of the sidewalk, no later than 10am every day.

Slips and falls that occur due to a property owner’s failure to adhere to these bylaws could constitute negligence. If injuries are caused by the negligence of another, then you may be entitled to make a claim for damages.

Property owners and occupiers are responsible for the safety of their premises.

  • homes
  • cabins
  • apartment complexes
  • city property
  • strata property
  • grocery stores
  • concert venues
  • restaurants
  • schools
  • libraries
  • movie theatres

If an owner or occupier fails to ensure their property is reasonably safe, they have failed in their duty of care. Reasonable care involves a wide range of regular maintenance such as cleaning up spills; repairing defective structures such as handrails, stairs and uneven flooring; and ensuring stairwells are properly lit.

Helpful tips to reduce your risk of slipping on ice

  1. Wear safe footwear outdoors to reduce slips.
  2. Install easily graspable handrails on both sides of your stairs and outdoor steps at home — and use them.
  3. Change into running shoes after arriving home rather than walking around in socks or bare feet — to help reduce the risk of slipping.
  4. Buy new winter boots every year to ensure that the treads have maximum slip-resistance and are not worn out.
  5. Use handrails and grab bars in public spaces and carry a small bottle of hand hygiene gel to use afterward.

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